Notre Dame burning while Labour walk away from CGT – why Danyl Mclauchlan is the most important political writer of our age & how to save Queen Jacinda

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As Notre Dame burned, the western world wept. The artistic treasures and monuments damaged represented a body blow to European culture and triggered an emotional outpouring closer to mass grief than a mere Church fire.

The same sense of raw stunned emotional shock welcomed Jacinda Ardern’s statement that the CGT would never ever become policy while she was leader.

For the Left a CGT is more than a taxation, it was a solemn promise made to every working person in Aotearoa.

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The Left promised working people who worked their fingers to the bone to make ends meet that those from across town with the right connections and the exclusive School ties and elite Rugby handshakes who smugly drove past as their speculation gained them untaxed wealth wouldn’t forever remain unburdened by the cost of propping up our society.

A CGT was a promise to those grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts, fathers, mothers, friends, whanau, children that the very taxation system that underpinned our democracy was an even playing field where everyone, not just the already rich and connected, could have social mobility and agency.

The only person within labour who even came close to actually making the argument to defend the CGT was Willie Jackson on his Facebook page

I was the youngest freezing worker president in this country. It’s hard physical work in the freezing works, and while I have gone on to hold many jobs and roles in my life, the injustice that a worker paid tax on every dollar they earned while business people and property speculators did not, angered me then as it does now.
This CGT is an attempt to share the tax  burden across the entire spectrum of the economy and lift the yoke of obligation from the shoulders of working people. 
Why should the men and women of the freezing works, of the manufacturing jobs, retail, clerical, the nurses, Drs, Teachers, Police, labourers, everyone who pays PAYE, why should they shoulder the full weight of taxation while owners and speculators don’t pay a cent?
This is about inequality and how to counter that inequality. Why should working people pay tax, but those who can afford accountants avoid it?
…after spending $2million on a Tax inquiry, after recording 48% in the polls, after International adoration, Jacinda not only pushed that solemn promise off to another election, she ruled it out completely.
What is the point of power if not to rule? If not now, when Jacinda has maximum political capital, then when? Apparently the when is not while she is leader, which given Helen Clarke’s previous reign could mean that Labour will not revisit this issue until Jacinda steps down, which could be another 7 years from now.
That’s MMP politics the apologists will wail.
Bullshit.
Labour had no fucking plan, they barely seemed to be aware the Tax Working Group were releasing their review, they had no coms plan whatsoever, they couldn’t even argue why it was needed.
Sure Winston didn’t help, but if you really wanted his agreement you could have come back with a watered down CGT at 15% and a firm promise to allow Shane Jones a free run in Northland, thus giving NZ First a lifeline if they do fall below 5%.
Deals could have been cut, they weren’t because Labour fundamentally still lacks a clear political agenda because no bugger (except me on election night) thought they had won the last election.
Remember, the Jacinda experiment came about because Andrew Little gave one last hail Mary and stepped aside for her, she wasn’t supposed to win, she was just supposed to stop Labour haemorrhaging into political insignificance.
Winning an election is one thing, Governing is completely another.
Many Ministers are still manipulated by their Ministries, and a lack of real Leadership on Labour’s front bench means Jacinda is having to do everything.
Add to this a lack of executive oversight around Jacinda, and you have an overworked Prime Minister with poor strategic advice and not enough strong Ministers to delegate to.
That’s why Labour had no plan to role out a CGT and had no strategy how to sell it.
It means we have a lot of talk about the Politics of Kindness, and fuck all proof the Ministries are even listening to her.
Which leads me to Danyl Mclauchlan’s must read critique of Jacinda’s sinking Government. I think Danyl Mclauchlan is the most important political writer of our age right now and his latest blog on the SpinOff must be read to gain perspective over the current Government…

The proposal had a lone champion: former Labour finance minister and Working Group chairman Sir Michael Cullen. Having him front the debate probably sounded like a good idea when it was dreamed up in the Beehive by a room full of people dazzled by Cullen’s brilliance, but it was never obvious that the wider public (a) remembered who Cullen was or (b) if they did, whether they liked or trusted him, Cullen having been a rather caustic and smug political figure, or (c) if they did remember and trust him, whether they were aware of Cullen’s very vocal contempt for a capital gains tax the entire time he held the finance portfolio, and also (d) all that aside, how much credibility he had once it was revealed the government was paying him $1000 a day to do their job for them.

The only person who could have won the debate was Jacinda, and Jacinda was regally silent. She had to be because she was ‘consulting with her coalition partners’ but even when she was forced to speak to tax issues in the House – the one place Ardern and Robertson couldn’t pay Cullen to speak for them – her lines were barely coherent. It’s the only time Simon Bridges, National’s inept, doomed leader looked more prime ministerial than Ardern.

…the grim reality is that well being budget shaped by the politics of kindness can only be meaningful if it tackles neoliberalism head on and rewrites the economic hegemony.
So what must happen to defend Queen Jacinda?
Firstly her front bench need to step up. Those who are not performing should stand aside and allow the new talent within Labour to come forward.
Secondly there needs to be new executive appointments around Jacinda to provide far better tactical advise to the Prime Minister and far better communication with Winston.
And there has to be the acknowledgement that sometimes a political fight will mean throwing a punch, it can’t all be kindness.
Jacinda symbolises a modern progressive democracy, her being pregnant and a mother while in power added with her compassionate rhetoric and incredible emotional intelligence that guided a nation through an atrocity are too precious to throw away but she must take on the free market establishment if her symbolism is to mean anything.
Otherwise her legacy will be as ashen and cold as the embers within Notre Dame.

32 COMMENTS

  1. “Apparently the when is not while she is leader, which given Helen Clarke’s previous reign could mean that Labour will not revisit this issue until Jacinda steps down, which could be another 7 years from now”
    My pick is it will be a hell of a lot later than that.

    “Which leads me to Danyl Mclauchlan’s must read critique of Jacinda’s sinking Government”

    Well which is it? sinking or rapidly rising? 48% you said above.

    The section of the left here drooling over the prospect of some property owners getting shaken down are sounding just like the Democrats wailing over the failure of the Mueller report to vanquish their hated villain .

    D J S

  2. Well, too many Kiwis were infatuated with one John Key, now a ‘Sir’ of sorts, and there were enough who voted him in, while Labour sank to unseen lows in the polls, only the Greens temporarily benefiting, which did not last, as we know.

    There are still forty or more percent who solidly support a Simon Nohoper Bridges National Party, and many are undecided.

    So Jacinda and her party may look good in the polls at present (after her sterling performance in handling the Christchurch terror attacks and consequences), there is a risk that people will tire of her and her government.

    Aunt Helen did operate carefully, so not to upset the neoliberal system and population who somehow got used to it, albeit some reluctantly.

    A CGT introduction would have rallied the neoliberal fan boys and girls who so much appreciate the ‘opportunity’ of things, like gold diggers, seeking treasures.

    The government would have had a fight at its hands, that would possibly have boosted Bridges’ ratings, certainly National’s poll ratings.

    Do not forget that the MSM is largely pro neoliberalism, pro status quo, and it does also report little on climate change and environmental issues, so nothing much gets done there.

    A CGT would have been fair to introduce, but so many do no longer love ‘fairness’ as we may understand it, they think it is ‘fair’ to be allowed to make speculating property and other asset sales wind falls, a ‘reward’ for taking ‘risk’ and ‘working hard’ by doing the flipped property up.

    There is at least the brightline test in place, and the biggest mistake the government made was to not allow that Tax Working Group look at higher taxes for high income earners and a few other alternatives. In effect the government tied its own hands, so what came out of the reports was the CGT in Cullen form, and a few humble environmental and other taxes that could be introduced.

    Jacinda is simply focused on getting neoliberal Labour over the line in 2020, so they can do more then, perhaps with the mostly urban liberal Greens. Even then they won’t touch the CGT.

    After what James Shaw said re the CGT in Parliament not long ago, he should resign as Co Leader now, and make room to someone a bit more traditional Greens than he is. He said basically, if they cannot get the CGT over the line, they do not deserve to be voted into Parliament again.

  3. The lightweights on the bench don’t need to step aside, Jacinda needs to fire them. It’s as simple as that. As soon as she takes control over the party she’ll get what she wants.

    Then we’ll find out if she ever wanted to do anything real – because the other option is that this all happened because she wanted it to

  4. Labour fundamentally still lacks a clear political agenda…no they don’t. They are hip neo liberals, who as a group of individuals, like being in power because being a politician is their chosen career. Maybe with Sales, or uper managment in a cool charity as their second choise.
    But they are sorta young, and like to think they are a bit cool, and want to be seen as kind…so they say some stuff, and do some stuff, that seems a bit kind and a bit cool.
    And if it means bullshitting a bit to win over some more votes from deluded Lefties, who apparently are pretty good at hearing what they want to hear, rather than whats being said, or more importantly, what’s Not being said…then so be it.

    plus they know its a message and subsequent lack of delivery, which they can vaguely blame on Winston, that will find favour with slightly guilty baby-boomers, who also want to look a bit cool and kind, and have fond memories of protesting Nuclear power and living in run down grey Lynn houses, but sure as hell don’t want anything to actually change.

    • Nailed it, Siobhan.

      This is the downside of virtue signalling. Of being “nice”.

      No action necessary. Just warm fuzzies.

      Maintaining power is the aim, not transformation.

      Same as the last lot.

    • Nailed it, Siobhan.

      This is the downside of virtue signalling. Of being nice. Of being popular.

      No action required.

      Populist fans don’t expect it, they just expect “good feelings”.

      The aim is power, not transformation. Steady as she goes. Tinker around teh edges. Just like the last lot.

      • and what was national political agenda Pete to privatise and sell everything and to sell us down the toilet and to make us tenants and homeless and landless in our own country. We don’t want these wankers in power ever they have shown they are all about themselves they are a bunch of nohopers just like soimon their chosen leader whom i heard stuttering on the radio this morning and his stuttering was hurting my ears.

        • It seems poor form to make fun of someones speech.

          This is not about National’s political agenda, it’s about Labours. One was just more transparent about it than the other.

    • Come on. Jacinda meet all her friends under neoliberalism, she meet her husband under neoliberalism, all her revenue streams are neoliberal. If no care was given when chucking out neoliberalism then Jacinda might well lose all her friends and all her money and with out her money there is no way woman in too jobs can balance a career and a family.

  5. A few more old ‘Trots’ and others with a marxist world view may need to come out of retirement, and help shape a political lobby and people’s movement, that pushes for ending the neo liberal experiment that has become an orthodoxy, and the “mother of all handbrakes” on social progress

    yes, the old commo’s spit on social democratic parties reformism and bourgeois democracy in the form of Parliament etc. etc. but who else is going to add a class analysis? Labour would be lucky to have two Caucus members with even a glimmer of such an understanding.

    If the coalition somehow wins a second term it will be by good luck rather than good management–and maybe assisted by a big Cannabis referendum turnout…so the absolute priority must be to sink the neo liberal consensus between National and Labour that has operated since 1984.

  6. Gareth Morgan takes issue with the Tax Working Group including Michael Cullen’s assertion that the capital gains tax (CGT) is best described as a ‘tax on capital income’, saying there appears total confusion over what income actually is

    https://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/98636/gareth-morgan-takes-issue-tax-working-group-including-michael-cullens-assertion

    “Tax Working Group head, Michael Cullen, asserts that the capital gains tax (CGT) is best described as a “tax on capital income”. Since when have capital gains been income? Show me any country’s national income accounts that include them in the measure of income.

    “There appears to be total confusion on Cullen’s part over what income actually is. And that is dangerous because such conflating of concepts threatens to compromise the whole basis of our income/expenditure-based taxation system…

    “Its proponents justify CGT as being an instrument to improve housing affordability – in other words, as a corrective tax rather than a revenue-raising one.

    Indeed in Labour’s case the rationale runs even deeper than that. As opposed to its indifference over how many cars, farms, businesses, or paintings I might own, the Left gets its knickers in a twist over how many houses one might have – even for own use. It has a deep-rooted preconception of what that number should be – one per household.

    …”Surely the government would be more productively engaged understanding and addressing why property is so dear, and addressing those causes, than issuing a decree on how many homes one should have, and bringing in a tax to enforce that.

    …”Auckland has one of the highest level of house prices to income in the world (along with Paris, Amsterdam, Vienna, Oslo, and London). The others are all subject to a CGT so where is the rationale that it’s a lack of CGT on 30% of our housing that’s uniquely the cause of high house prices?

    This reality is why the Cullen TWG was never going to be credible and why the tax literate within it’s number objected to the CGT…

  7. ‘Finance Minister Grant Robertson on the effectiveness of taxing land bankers, why the bright-line test won’t be extended and whether his tax review was doomed to fail from the start’ by Jenée Tibshraeny

    https://www.interest.co.nz/news/99226/finance-minister-grant-robertson-effectiveness-taxing-land-bankers-why-bright-line-test

    ….and this comment from Foxglove on Cullen is interesting;

    by Foxglove | 18th Apr 19, 1:59pm

    “Interesting to track the course of one Dr Cullen on all of this. Firstly as a capable enough Minister of Finance, he told us to remember that nobody had ever heard him mention CGT as an option. Secondly, supposedly, his TWG did not recommend a CGT. Thirdly, again supposedly, the current Minister of Finance requested that GCT, somehow or other, should be put forward. Fourthly Dr Cullen is employed to promote the TWG report, with an emphasis on CGT being made acceptable, one would think. Finally Dr Cullen decries Mr Peters for harpooning CGT You want to go back to the Wine Box enquiry and see how many times the good Dr Cullen changed sides and opinions as events unfolded. Even a leopard in polka dot pyjamas would be proud.”

  8. Danyl is a shill for PwC, Shaw too. They used to and not so long ago go off into the town belt on a full moon and read out incantations while their photographer friend from the US embassy filmed the bush and the paths nearby hoping to catch a frame or two of a summoned apparition or entity.

  9. As Edmund Burke pointed out, the politician’s job is not to give people what they are hoping for, but what they need. What people need more than anything is rectification of the housing market, and a CGT would probably not have achieved this, particularly with family homes exempted. If anything it was likely to make things worse as people poured more resources into private dwellings. Also, a CGT was the option preferred by the banking sector; so what does that tell us, given that the banks’ main interest in all of this is to keep the housing market merry-go-round revolving.

    Labour didn’t actually promise a CGT. They did promise to set up a tax working group to address the question of fairness within the tax system. They weren’t to know that the group would recommend this unwanted capital gains tax, and unsurprising that Jacinda did nothing to defend it after the event.

    • MIKESH , I’m pretty sure the Labour promise was NOT to bring is a CGT this term so I for one don’t understand the disappointment. It was yet another distraction as the planet burns.

      also I’m not sure democracy is supposed to be authoritarian.

      “the politician’s job is not to give people what they are hoping for, but what they need.”

        • Maybe the government should have proposed a ‘capital gains’ tax then not what they actually proposed of one that was based on taxable income for the tax rate of capital gain.

          So everybody would be taxed at different rates on the gain! Not fair at all when people could manipulate their tax rates.

          What the tax working group crafty proposed was something that all their mates could avoid by making their taxable income zero!

          Most people seem unable to fathom the doomed capital gains tax proposed had the actual tax rate based on taxable income! It was never a capital gains tax equal for all on the gain!

          Funny enough the financial services tax, got no traction from the tax working group and they proposed that manipulatable dog instead!

          • Some have argued that the TWG did not look closely enough at either land taxes or RFRR taxes. However the best format seems to be the one used at present for local authority rates. This format works well because:

            1. Family homes are included, and

            2. The are collected quarterly.

            Neither of these factors was proposed for the CGT.

  10. Morning @ MB.
    ” …why Danyl Mclauchlan is the most important political writer of our age & how to save Queen Jacinda…”
    Firstly, having just watched Bryan Bruce’s documentary ” Who owns New Zealand Now? ” published 2017. I can say without fear of contradiction that it is, in fact, Bryan Bruce who is the most important political writer of our age.
    Go here. Watch this. Expertly researched and professionally produced highlighting real crimes and real solutions to real problems. A-mazing.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzSAmOQuyjU

    ‘ Queen Jacinda’ is a summer leaf on a deciduous tree. Her autumn’s coming.
    What we must remember, but most will forget because “Rugby! Beer! 9 Ways to dress kittens in bows and sparkles! Fuck Yeah! Dumbasses! An’ that… and stuff! ” is that, that act of terrorism which was the infection and augmentation of neoliberalism into our beautiful AO/NZ has done its job. They. Have the money from our stuff and things and We are without and can’t really figure out what to do about that. All They have to do is ensure they get away with what they’ve done to us. All we have to do is pick up the pieces.
    In Bryan Bruce’s documentary he interviews a family of six living in a car on a cold night while OUR government is selling OUR houses to Chinese nationals ( and others) while being our government’s being deliberately vague about exactly how they do that.
    In other words!
    Now focus! ? OUR government are very proactively helping Chinese ‘investors’ buy, thus consequently directly inflating OUR house prices. OUR GOVERNMENT IS DELIBERATELY HELPING FOREIGN NATIONALS BUY OUR HOUSES OUT FROM UNDER OUR NOSES! AND THEY DO THAT BY DELIBERATELY WARPING THE STATS AND FIGURES RE FOREIGN INVESTMENT. WATCH THE ABOVE DOCUMENTARY!!!!???
    Sadly, We. Are not French, luckily for Them. Otherwise, the ugly Bee Hive would be on fire and roger douglas’s house would have been pushed over by a bulldozer as he was being frog-marched to prison.
    WATCH BRYAN BRUCE’S DOCUMENTARY? PLEASE?

    • @ COUNTRYBOY … you never fail to find the nail and the hammer … !!
      Belt and Road Initiative aided by the Talpiot Program steaming our way faster than many here realize…aided by closure of many news sites for “national security” reasons, of course.

  11. I had great hope for this government, but sadly my optimism is waning. Target after target is being missed, the latest I read this morning is a back down by Stuart Nash on those 1800 new cops. Add to that no CGT, poverty worsening, homelessness not improving, hardship grant numbers exploding , jobseekers now at 74000 a 14% increase on last year and beneficiaries numbers up by roughly 11000 in the past twelve months. I did not realize that we re-elected a National government. This isn’t us, this isn’t the year of delivery, I could care less about Jacindas kindness and empathy, its meaning nothing to those that need it. Wake up Labour, this year of delivery us turning into the year of calamity. We need a new party on the left, placing our hopes on a neoliberal loving party like Labour is, improves nothing. Shameful.

    • New cops ain’t going to appear from nowhere we have to encourage people to enter into this occupation as with teaching and when we have just had a state servant bashing government determined to privatise everything. The new coalition government need to produce a very good budget come May with major investments in hugely neglected areas. You cannot fix 9 years of cuts and neglect it will take at least 4 terms in government but at least we have a nice young leader who can do this and hopefully deliver for us all not just the few.

  12. The Government should have been bold enough to spend every ounce of energy explaining, selling and introducing a CGT. The electorate being willing to trust and believe Ms Ardern, would then have had the ball in its court.

    And after the next election a newly elected National would have got rid of it.

    The point is, what selling would have had to be done to make it acceptable? To have enough people ‘trusting’ Labour.

    Along with battles and plans and processes which had people trusting and believing they had a handle of housing, and poverty and mental health and infrastructural development.

    A big enough section of the electorate is as steady and rooted as an autumn leaf on an autumn beach. The merest breath of a Collins, or Mitchell and mates or Tova O’Brien and cobbers the leaves are down the other end of the beach.

    I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe it is in building a massive advertising team and doing what needs to be done, going rip-shit-or-bust – not sparing the horses.

  13. Firstly the only reason the Labour survived to beat the Natz was that at the last minute Labour campaigned on reducing immigration, stopping NZ being sold off to foreigners, not signing the TPPA and not bringing in a capital gains tax and that was popular enough with enough voters, to get them through.

    Labour and the coalition have reneged on most of the promises, so thinking that reneging on all their promises already means Labour might go the way of Greens and NZ First and, mean’t that the next election was pretty much a high risk gamble for the lefties and we would get the much worse Natz back.

    Under globalism anything to do with taxable income is very fluid there are millions of loopholes to not pay taxes based on domicile, tax structure etc…as usual the honest will pay and the greedy will not and since the tax working group rejected the financial services tax (that would effect them) they instead decided to go for one of the highest capital gains tax in the world that would have ensured a move to domicile out of NZ for income taxes.

    Pretty sure there is some existing double tax agreement with Singapore and OZ that means those tax resident including companies don’t have to pay NZ income tax but only OZ taxes so would not pay any capital gains – the locals were going to be hit the most.

    CGT was expected to increase the shortages and costs of renting property so made existing issues worse.

    The left obsession on CGT is that, in the same way, the right wingers like to blame employment/sickness beneficiaries and want to punish them daily for being who they are, the woke and CGT enthusiasts like to blame the middle class for everything and want to punish them for who they are.

    Even if their fixations are not going to help and can make things worse, they are obsessed with their concept and punishment and unwilling to look at other ways and issues that can solve the problem.

    • So you took landlords threats to sell rentals or increase rents if they had to pay a CGT seriously?

      A landlord seeling a rental does not reduce the number of houses, and rent prices are generally set by market forces, not an organised cartel of landlords fixing prices.

      The GOP, the Tories, the Oz Liberals etc all have CGT – it’s not left wing, its not an attack on the middle class, its global consensus.

  14. Still on about the GCT and Adern? I’m no fan of one and simply not interested in the other.

    What does interest me is decent policy and thus far I have not seen anything from this govt that gives me cause for anything remotely resembling hope. Just talk of yet more taxes and yet policy that looks to me suspiciously neo liberal.

    Maybe I’ll come back here in a month or two and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll hear something that resonates with me and then again maybe I wont.

  15. Wow, grand gentleman, I haven’t read a bit beyond the powerful headline and sub-shift of description. Fulla meself obviously. Being don’t matter a shi…ft. You are kind about exudant empathy.

    I prefer my egomaniac g.grandfather who broke up his family in pursuit of ‘t’Cause’ — his reward in ’35 at 70, being adjudged too coarsely, violently for the people to be appointed to the upper house.

    I’d like to see you take apart this government in terms of the actual reality. Like those who called for a national emergency.

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